“The wolf that grows is the wolf you feed”
This old adage is of unknown origin but is speculated to come from the Cherokee tribe. Its usage is as wide as being referenced in John Wick and Star Trek. Yet, I recently came across this quote for the first time as I was watching a video about a man reflecting on his battle with addiction.
After a rollercoaster story, the man looks into the camera and says, “I could’ve chosen addiction, misery, and death, and for a long time I did. One day, I decided to choose freedom, love, and life, and I began feeding the other wolf. The wolf that grows is the wolf you feed.”
This is a powerful sentiment to consider when we think about how humans have conflicting desires, impulses that go against reason, and severe dissonance between our values and our actions. Even though I don’t find myself battling any grave negative energies within me, I believe the devil is within the details of some of my negative attributes. As I have concluded finals as I record this and have effectively no responsibilities on my plate, my schedule has opened into a void and both my inner wolves are hungry to consume my time.
There is the wolf of positivity who enjoys being fed with reading and essay assignments, training hard, cooking healthy meals, and staying socially adventurous. This wolf loves making his bed when he wakes up and meditating before he sleeps. As the Cherokee story tells it, this is the wolf of light, joy, serenity, humility, benevolence, and faith.
Contrastingly, there is the wolf of negativity, counterproductive behaviors, and regretful decision-making. Historically speaking, this wolf loves microwaveable garbage food, bingeing Hot Wheels car races on YouTube, and generally choosing introverted, uninspired activities over adventures with friends. This wolf lives within me, and, for the most part, I keep it at bay. By time blocking my schedule, focusing on school assignments, running, and the podcast, and using my leisure time for meditation, reading, and yoga, I successfully starve this beast. Yet, when the competition season ceases and the fall or spring semester comes to a close, there becomes a new bounty of time for this monster to feed upon. And many times, this wolf finds a way to feast.
Just last winter break, I told Demetri I wanted to start my own blog. My lofty goal was to write one blog post per day on different philosophical topics. While my motive to write was high, and my ideas were endless, I returned to Loyola’s campus with just one blog written. Why did this happen? How could I have fallen so short?
Well, aside from the overly ambitious and taunting goal and the immense amount of travel I did, the issue was rooted in my unwillingness to let my vacation end. As soon as I finished the fall semester, I threw all organization and productivity tips out the window and lived without any intention. I fulfilled every shallow desire and this bad momentum compounded until I was paralyzed by laziness.
All this to say, I am doing it differently this summer. Although finals just ended today, I am already filling my time with new ways to feed my good wolf. I am applying for more internships, working at the bike shop, and completing some fixer-upper tasks around the apartment that have been pushed off for far too long. By continuing to give myself structure, I continue to push myself towards meaningful and fun tasks. Yes, vacations are important for burnout, but you can rejuvenate your mind while being productive in different ways.
So if you’re a student or teacher reaching summer break, a working adult approaching a vacation, or just someone looking to fill their discretionary time with something more, ask yourself: which wolf do you wish to feed? If you wish to be lazy, bored and filled with darkness, continue doing what that wolf asks of you. If you wish to find fulfillment and meaning, begin listening to the good wolf because he is waiting to be fed.
Have an awesome week!
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